Winter full closure brings construction to the home stretch

LARIMER COUNTY—Crews on the US Highway 34 Big Thompson Canyon Project will fully close the highway this winter as part of continued construction. Canyon residents will be issued access permits for travel at specified times each day.

As October nears, CDOT and project contractor, Kiewit, are working to finalize all the logistics of this large-scale closure, but there are some details that local communities can plan for now. The project team will host public meetings and permit distribution opportunities from 5-8 p.m. on Monday, Sept. 11, at Estes Park High School, and from 5-8 p.m. Wednesday, Sept. 13, at Namaqua Elementary School in Loveland. These events will provide more information about upcoming work and the closure. Information will also be posted to the project website in early September.

  • On Monday, Oct. 2, the canyon will close from just east of mile point 66 (just east of Mall Road) to mile point (MP) 83 (the Dam Store) to through traffic, and will re-open (weather dependent) just prior to the Memorial Day weekend 2018.
    • During this closure, there will be several work zones spread out over about 12 miles of the canyon.
    • As work progresses, sections of the road will be reopened, providing more flexible access to canyon residents.
  • For several months, crews will fully close US 34 from approximately MP 72 to MP 74 (just west of Waltonia). It will be inaccessible, even during the allowed travel times, as crews work near the landslide.
    • Canyon residents headed to Estes Park must use County Road 43, and all others without permits (including oversized vehicles) must use the US 36 detour.
    • Once the work in this area is complete, canyon residents will be able to travel through this section of US 34 during the allowed travel times.
  • Residents and property owners in the canyon will be allowed access with their permit at the following times and days:
    • From 6-8:30 a.m., and from 4-7 p.m., Mondays through Thursdays.
    • From Fridays through Sundays, afternoon open hours will be extended to 4-8 p.m.
  • We will release additional information about comments from the last round of public meetings as it is finalized, and at the upcoming public meetings.

  • Permits will be distributed to canyon residents—all properties off US 34 from the Dam Store to Mall Road, and on County Road 43 to Glen Haven.
    • These permits, which will be broken up into different areas based on property location in the canyon, will be distributed at upcoming public meetings and during specified office hours.
    • We will provide more information on these dates, times and locations in the coming days.
  • To provide canyon residents access to their property outside the hours above, the team will provide coordinated access in and out of the canyon (aka, a resident scheduling service, or RSS).
    • The RSS is separate from the permitting process.
    • We will provide step-by-step instructions for this service at the September public meetings.
  • CR 43 residents will be provided permits, but because they don’t live within the closure limits, they will not qualify for the resident scheduling service.
    • These residents will always have access in and out of their homes on CR 43 to US 36.
    • Permits will be used to access US 34 directly into Loveland during regular morning and night openings.
  • Due to the significant volume of commuters, CDOT will be unable to provide permits to commuters during this closure.
  • Look for announcements on the project website, or via email or the project hotline when the canyon is open to resident or public travel.
  • The canyon will be open to all drivers on Thanksgiving (Thursday, Nov., 23), and from Saturday, Dec. 23 through Tuesday, Jan. 2.
    • Pilot cars will direct traffic through the work areas, but permits will not be necessary.
  • Crews will give priority access to emergency response and snow removal vehicles, and Thompson Valley and Estes Park school buses during the closure. 
  • CDOT is working to give coordinated access to service providers (post offices, parcel delivery companies, etc.).
    • Although the canyon will open before Memorial Day weekend 2018, there will still be traffic impacts for work such as asphalt paving and guardrail installation throughout the summer.
    • Additional river restoration work, work on access bridges and other off-corridor work with lower impacts on US 34 traffic will likely continue into fall and winter 2018

About the Project

US 34 Big Thompson Canyon’s roads and bridges were heavily damaged during the 2013 floods, with many homes damaged and over 100 air-lifted evacuations. The canyon and its residents also suffered from flooding in 1976. As a result of these two events, CDOT studied the hydraulic flow of the river in the canyon, and its impact on the roads and bridges along its path while looking for safety improvements and resiliency solutions to prevent/protect against future flood events.


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